Benni, Henning and Ravi are already eight days into their adventure, 122 hours of which they have spent on trains and buses. But once they reached the Iranian border, Henning had to stay behind. The other two went ahead, finding hospitable people and questionable taxi drivers.
When Benni, Henning and Ravi first started to plan their tour, each of them picked an animal alias. Henning, who works as an experimental engineer for helicopter components in real life and is admired by his friends for his infectious enthusiasm and virtually limitless motivation, chose the owl. Benni, a mechanical engineer with the most “structured” mentality out of the three, went with the goat. Ravi, a social and outdoor education specialist from Singapore, has a motto: You can take the monkey out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the monkey. “Without him, our trips would only be half as funny,” the owl and goat agreed. Ravi picked the raccoon, but sometimes, his friends just call him Mowgli.
The owl catches up
The trio was already eight days into their adventure, 122 hours of which they spent on trains and buses. But after they reached the Iranian border, Henning had to stay behind. His visa wasn’t stored in the system. The other two drove ahead to Tehran, hoping that their “owl” would catch up soon.
They heard from him sooner than expected: the border staff clearly was no match for his strong will. After long negotiations and countless phone calls, his visa somehow appeared. Henning told his friends that he was already on the bus to Tehran. He reached the Iranian capital just a few hours after the others.
The next day, the three were already in a taxi, with Benni and Ravi still wondering how Henning managed to pull off that feat, when they realized that their taxi driver hadn’t understood a word of what they told him. Instead of the railway station, he was taking them to the airport. All attempts at resolving the misunderstanding were futile. Google Translate failed miserably. A helpful Iranian who was watching the situation from the roadside understood the situation and, finally, sent the driver to the right destination. But not by the shortest route. The alleyways were getting narrower and narrower, and time was tight for the three travelers. Their train was scheduled to depart at 11 o’clock. It was 10:50, and there’s no railway station in sight.
At the last minute
Ten minutes later, the station building appeared in front of them, seemingly out of nowhere. Benni, Ravi and Henning grabbed their luggage and ran. Each of them was carrying around 35 kilos. Gear for a year on the road – or even longer. First, the sliding door to the station refused to budge. Then, security checks. Finally, passport checks. As they finally ran onto the platform, they watched their train pull out of the station before their eyes.
Disappointment turned into hopelessness. But the owl wouldn’t give in: he kept running until one of the station staff noticed him. “His radio unit was our savior,” Benni wrote later. “To our great surprise, the train came to a halt, and we jumped on.” The final leg of their arrival. Soon, the real journey would begin. Tomorrow! In the south of Iran. In Bandar Abbas. From there, their route will take them through regions that are dominated by the illicit opium trade at night. The locals deem them “too dangerous” for the three young Germans’ plan. But first they have something else to take care of: buying some camels from the market …
In the first part you can read about the hardships the three Hessians had to endure at the beginning of their journey.